short short story

Empathy twice removed [or Rosenhan revisited] (II)

He only ever absorbed what he saw around him.  If people were good, he picked up the goodness and amplified it as much as he could.  But some not so good people were not at all happy when they sensed – consciously or subconsciously (like underwater weapon of significant war) – that the good they found it more difficult to control could be amplified by someone like him.

His life wasn’t a bed of scented roses, mind – and if it was, then only in the sense that thorns accompanied: if the people around him were tending towards bad, he’d pick up the badness just as easily as the good.  And then this was exactly where the conflict emerged: this was what helped to destroy the life he could’ve led: this was what happened which no one understood: this was the reason for the death of his being: this was the fact that explained everything there was – everything there was to be explained by everything he could.

In picking up the badness, and the future and the plans, and the lies and the half-truths of bad people around, his conscience forewarned simply disallowed his participation: he became utterly unable to proceed with any project: the reasons were simple: the opportunities so grand for even the fairly good people to one day take a gander down routes and pathways and alleyways and doorways which would take them to the land of the truly bad.

And so they considered him paranoid, when in fact he was right.

And he found it impossible to live with the knowledge.

So he closed down his humanity, and spat out his anger, and finally became the person he had never ever wanted to be: as bad as the bad, for sure – and even as bad as the only moderately good.

For there’s nothing much worse than a bad man or woman who clearly proclaims their condition.  Except, of course, when the bad man or woman is bad because they’ve chosen to be only moderately good.  And in the crimes of such lukewarm halfway houses, therein lie so many compromises which lead to the half-truths of people who pretend to understand it all – even as they hide it all from perfect view.

It was so hard to learn to live a lie.

It is terribly so for all the invisibly disabled.

But in the truth and fact of the matter to hand, he’d been obliged to learn to live that lie he’d been accused of reverting to precisely because too many people feared the truth of his life: and in the end, the lie he found himself living during decades of grossly imposed inhibition was needed much more by them – by their duplicitous lot – than ever was needed by himself.

And if he now continued to tell porkies for their overwhelming benefit, it was precisely for the pigs who knew all the reasons why.


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